O is for Once upon a Time

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With “Book Lover’s Day” coming up on August 9th, I thought I’d devote some thoughts to the joy of reading.  So grab your bowl and curl up in your favorite chair for an alphabet story.   My love for reading began when I discovered the library.  One of my earliest memories was sitting in the kid’s section  of our small  public library.  It was overseen by a stern older woman who would not allow any talk above a whisper.  I remember it as a quiet, and  cool escape from the summer heat.  It was also an escape from the teasing I received from my brothers, as  I was the only girl sandwiched between two older brothers and a younger one.  Even if one of them came along with me, the librarian was my champion, hushing any comments sent my way.

It was here that I discovered another escape that took me into  realms of fantasy.  Books that began with ‘Once upon a time in a far-a-way land’ grabbed my attention and transported me to a world of beautiful heroines who always got rescued by the  brave and handsome hero.

I soon graduated from fairy-tales and got hooked on  crime solver, “Nancy Drew”.  I went along with her (through the complete series) as she ventured into territories that both scared and delighted me.  I was a trembling, but silent passenger as she drove her little car with the rumble seat.  It was a thrilling ride that soon ended soon after the discovery of the classics.

Charles Dickens’ stories about people leading hardscrabble lives made me appreciate my life immeasurably.  I enjoyed the dark tales of Edgar Allen Poe that  were so suspenseful I could stay immersed for hours!  When I’d come up for a breath of air, I was ready for something lighter.  “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” (Betty Smith) and”The Secret  Garden”(Frances Hodgson Burnett)  provided that relief.  I loved novels by Willa Cather, especially”My Antonia”.

In highschool, assigned reading was John Steinbeck’s the “Grapes of Wrath”  which was read with much interest since I was born in Oklahoma.   I learned about life on “Cannery Row” and read the thought-provoking story “Of Mice and Men”.  ”

“The Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad, “Sister Carrie” by  Theodore Dreiser, and  the novels of Edna Ferber were tops on my list of books.  My all-time favorite has to be “to Kill a Mockingbird” (Harper Lee).  I love the relationship of the father with his children. It’s theme of honesty and devotion to truth is one that will always hold a place in my memory.

Another writer that can hold my attention for hours is Barbara Kingsolver.  She had me from the first page of “The Bean Tree”.  Titles to grab your attention are “Pigs in Heaven” and “Poisonwood Bible”

Teaching elementary grades gave me a chance to renew my interest in children’s literature.  Of course I read aloud to my class many stories that began with “Once upon a time”.   “Charlotte’s Web” ( E.B. White) was loved by the children.  “The Velveteen Rabbit” (Marjorie Williams) was a favorite.

Maintaining an interest  for children’s literature, I recently I read the “Invention of Hugo Cabret” and enjoyed it so much I went on to read his second work “Wonderstruck”.  The are wonderful inventive books to be enjoyed by young and old alike.

Now that my granddaughter is beginning to read the “Nancy Drew” series, I’m looking forward to  sharing the rumble seat with her.

Do you have a favorite childhood book or memory of the library?

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2 thoughts on “O is for Once upon a Time

  1. Barbara Kingsolver is a genius. I have read most of her books and never been disappointed. Anne Tyler is another who has consistently delighted me but I haven’t picked up anything by her in quite a while. One of the most intriguing books I have read in a long while is a book called “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” by Mark Haddon. A story told from the point of view of an autistic boy. a brilliantly rendered tale. If you haven’t read it yet I highly recommend it.

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